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Coping with University Life Using Mindfulness and Sensory Strategies

Students participate as both students and mentors on a CPD module as part of the widening access and participation strategy for a project in collaboration with AutismNI.


Outline of Activity

To introduce a small group of young men with Asperger Syndrome (AS) to studying at the University of Ulster in a safe, supportive environment. This is planned to reduce perceived barriers into higher education and create tailored support mechanisms in line with the Access to Success strategy. The module consists of four full day workshops including group work, practical activities and meditation practice to test out techniques and develop competencies. The OT students acted as mentors and helped introduce the young men to mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques to help reduce stress, develop resilience, increase confidence, and raise aspirations and participation. They also introduced them to sensory strategies to help them deal with any sensory difficulties they experience.

Learning Outcomes

KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING

  • K1 Recognise the relationship between everyday activities, social interaction, health and emotional wellbeing
  • K2 Develop a mindful attitude to enhance self awareness, promote emotional resilience and compassion
  • K3 Extend their knowledge of positive risk taking to enhance participation


INTELLECTUAL QUALITIES

  • I1 Apply skills needed for academic study and enquiry
  • I2 Select relevant information from a variety of sources
  • I3 Utilise problem solving skills
  • I4 Evaluate opportunities to meet personal development needs


PROFESSIONAL/PRACTICAL SKILLS

  • P1 Undertake independent and self-directed study and learning
  • P2 Prioritise workload and manage time effectively
  • P3 Appreciate the influence of home and university environments upon academic performance
  • P4 Develop positive coping skills through participation in new experiences


TRANSFERABLE SKILLS

  • T1 Demonstrate the ability to engage with technology in the use of university resources to assist learning
  • T2 Reflect on mindfulness practice and sensory strategies in action
  • T3 Assess and reflect on personal interests, values, abilities and transferable skills for effective communication
  • T4 Build a sense of self-esteem and confidence alongside the ability to recognise limitations

In addition to this, the OT students get the opportunity to practice their assessment and interventions.

Assessment Details

  • Formative assessment is provided in the form of rating scales given at the beginning and end of the workshops to identify stress levels, sensory processing issues, and mindful behaviours.
  • Mindfulness journals are also used to chart progress throughout the module and identify improved participation in different environments.
  • Group feedback is provided through online discussion groups between and during workshops.
  • Based on the workshops and evaluations, students are required to submit a 800 reflection on their experience of this module and how it has influenced their personal development and create actions plan for future personal development. (pass/fail).

Level of Commitment

100 hours including:

  1. Workshops
  2. Practicals
  3. Independent study.

Students act a role models and mentors for young men with Asperger syndrome on a CPD module that helps the young men to prepare for life at university.
Students will need to apply both the personal and professional skills they have developed as occupational therapy students

Related Staff

Monique Harte

Lecturer in Occupational Therapy
School of Health Sciences
+44 28 9036 6570
m.harte@ulster.ac.uk
14L01 - Jordanstown campus

Find out more about Monique Harte